How to Take Care of A Green Basilisk

The Green Basilisk is a beautiful, green lizard that is endemic to the tropical rainforests of Central America. It is also known for other names such as Plumed Basilisk and Double-crested Basilisk. Its unique ability to run over water earned it a recognizable moniker: the Jesus Christ lizard. This lizard is touted to be best kept by beginners who are ready to accommodate their needs. Let us know more about the history and characteristics of the Green Basilisk.


The Green Basilisk’s generic name “Basiliscus” was derived from the legendary reptilian creature of European mythology, transforming a man to a stone with a single glance: the Basilisk. The name was from the Greek term “basiliskos,” meaning “little king.” The generic name was first given by Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy.

This lizard spends most of its time around bodies of water and in trees. When threatened, the Green Basilisk runs fast or dives into the water to avoid the predator.

Characteristics of a Green Basilisk

Average weight: Up to 7 ounces

Average Life Span: Up to 10 years

The Green Basilisk is the largest among the basilisk species, measuring approximately 25 cm. Including its tail, it can measure up to 3 feet in total length—the Green Basilisk is not very stocky nor heavy, which makes it a beginner-friendly lizard pet. An adult Green Basilisk is brilliant green in color, with small bluish spots on its dorsal ridge and bright yellow eyes. A male Green Basilisk has three crests: on the back, head, and tail, which are all utilized to impress the opposite sex. Meanwhile, a female Green Basilisk only has a head crest. One of the Green Basilisk’s most recognizable feature is its hydrophobic scales on the underside of its feet, which allows the lizard to walk over the water. The Green Basilisk is also an excellent swimmer that can stay underwater for an hour. Male Green Basilisk are very territorial—one male lizard tends to keep a territory with many females with whom he mates.

Caring for a Green Basilisk

It is highly recommended to keep the lizard in a wooden vivarium with large vents and glass sliding front doors. This lizard species spends a significant amount of time basking in the sun. Even with sparse covers from tree tops, plants, or bushes, they would still be sitting in a spot with adequate heat. For this reason, the Green Basilisk requires a well-warm basking area of 90 to 95°F during the daytime. You can achieve this kind of temperature by attaching a strong basking lamp to the ceiling of the enclosure on one side. You can control the heat with a dimming thermostat to keep the temperature tolerable for your pet. The basking lamp can be left open for 10 to 12 hours a day. At night, you should keep the lights off to establish a clear day-night cycle for your pet.

A Green Basilisk would need UV-B lighting, as well as absorbent decorations to climb over and bask on. When choosing a bedding, ensure that the pieces are absorbent. Some pet owners use a coarse bark woodchip because it is cheap, easy to clean, and dust-free. However, should you prefer a more natural-looking bedding, a soil and moss mix would definitely match your preference.

This lizard species will definitely love the warmth coming from the basking lamp. However, they also appreciate secondary belly heat coming from warm objects. As such, you may consider putting natural rocks like slate and other heavy artificial ornaments around the basking area so they could also absorb warmth from the lamp. If the basking lamp hangs too low in the enclosure, there is a high possibility that the rocks could get too hot for the lizard, so it’s best to check the surface temperature from time to time to avoid burns.

The Green Basilisk is an omnivorous reptile, meaning it shall be fed with a variety of vegetation and meat. In the wild, they mainly feed on fish, small mammals, and invertebrates. In captivity, it is usually fed with live insects, such as brown crickets, black crickets, locusts, waxworms, cockroaches, mealworms, and beetle grubs are great aliment for your pet. Don’t forget to put a large-sized water bowl in its enclosure. The Green Basilisk uses water to drink or take a bath.